Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Based on: Lewis Carroll‘s novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Sequel to: Alice in Wonderland
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Lindsay Duncan, Leo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard Armitage, Ed Speleers, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Seen on: 2.6.2016
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is working very hard to keep her father’s shipping company together, but things aren’t going well. Things seem doomed after her mother (Lindsay Duncan) signed over their shares to Alice’ former suitor Hamish (Leo Bill). It is just then that bad news reaches Alice from Wonderland and she sets off there to help the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who hasn’t been himself. In fact, he seems to have crossed the line into absolute madness, believing firmly that his family isn’t actually dead, but can still be brought back. Reluctantly Alice agrees to help by speaking to Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and trying to get to the chronosphere which would help them clear matters up. But things get more complicated when it becomes obvious that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) is also involved.
The first Alice film wasn’t particularly good, though I did enjoy watching that cast in that production design for the most part. That’s why I figured I would give Alice Through the Looking Glass a try as well. Unfortunately, it was even less convincing than the first film.
Burton’s Alice took some major liberties regarding the original, but it did feel like it was in the same spirit as the novels (for the most part). With Alice Through the Looking Glass, they really lost that feeling for me. It starts with the fact that it isn’t actually a story about Alice, but about the Mad Hatter, even if Alice gets to carry out most of it – and that was a weird choice to make, especially seeing as Johnny Depp has lost touch with his characters and works with gimmicks only by now. Maybe abusing your wife will do that to you.
But then it gets worse because they obviously decided that they would delve into the backstory of the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen to explain how they came to be who they are. But the thing is – things in Wonderland aren’t explicable. They are wonders, mysterious, magical and just as they are simply because they aren’t different. They follow their own logic To try to give a by our standards rational explanation of it all is to fundamentally misunderstand what this world is about. That this is the case here, is also very obvious in the chronosphere; simply by naming it like an H.G. Wells’ science fiction device and not some absurd made-up word and/or pun, the lack of understanding becomes obvious.
But even if we disregard the fact that this should have something to do with Carroll’s books, the film doesn’t work. Setting up a conflict in the real world only to drag Alice to Wonderland to solve somebody else’s problem is a weird narrative choice. Alice as the chosen savior emulates Narnia, but really not a in a good way (it was already not great there).
All my comments probably make it seem like I hated the film. I didn’t. There were amusing tidbits here and there, we get to hear Alan Rickman’s voice and Sacha Baron Cohen performing a script crammed to the brim with all possible time puns in his best Werner Herzog mode does have its moments. But altogether, it’s a film that left me cold and uncaring – much as I imagine the people who made it felt about it.